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Optical character recognition (OCR)

Optical character recognition, usually abbreviated to OCR, is the mechanical or electronic translation of images of handwritten, typewritten or printed text (usually captured by a scanner) into machine-editable text.

OCR is a field of research in pattern recognition, artificial intelligence and machine vision. Though academic research in the field continues, the focus on OCR has shifted to implementation of proven techniques.

Optical character recognition (using optical techniques such as mirrors and lenses) and digital character recognition (using scanners and computer algorithms) were originally considered separate fields.

Because very few applications survive that use true optical techniques, the OCR term has now been broadened to include digital image processing as well.

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It is usually abbreviated to OCR, is the mechanical or electronic translation of images of handwritten, typewritten or printed text (usually captured by a scanner) into machine-editable text.

OCR is a field of research in pattern recognition, artificial intelligence and machine vision. Though academic research in the field continues, the focus on OCR has shifted to implementation of proven techniques. Optical character recognition (using optical techniques such as mirrors and lenses) and digital character recognition (using scanners and computer algorithms) were originally considered separate fields.

Because very few applications survive that use true optical techniques, the OCR term has now been broadened to include digital image processing as well.

Early systems required training (the provision of known samples of each character) to read a specific font. "Intelligent" systems with a high degree of recognition accuracy for most fonts are now common. Some systems are even capable of reproducing formatted output that closely approximates the original scanned page including images, columns and other non-textual components.

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Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.